Product Differentiation Options
Products of authentic learning experiences communicate the nature and substance of what has been learned. Authentic learning generates products that require authentic assessment. When differentiating curriculum for highly able learners, best practices for product development and assessment for all remain intact and expectations should rise in ways that reflect students’ potentials for growth, rather than their age. A fundamental guideline regarding outcomes and assessment for high ability students is “Aim high!” Assessment criteria and procedures should clearly communicate this expectation.
Strategies for differentiating the product of learning experiences include:
- Sharing student products with authentic audiences
- Using authentic feedback and assessment criteria and procedures
- Including self-selected products
- Transforming content into new forms of expression
- Including student self-selected products for learning experiences
- Variety in the products of differentiated learning experiences
Significant points to keep in mind while differentiating the product of learning experiences:
- Student products should be authentic. To the greatest extent possible, students should be developing products with value beyond the classroom so they have the potential to impact real audiences.
- The format of the product should be appropriate for the content and domain. It should be developed using methods of expression consistent with the discipline. For example, when students are working with mathematical proofs, the proofs should be presented as a mathematician would communicate them, not as a video or a diorama.
- In most situations, students should be able to learn and produce the evidence of learning in the same amount of time allowed for the undifferentiated activity.
- Products may be tangible (e.g., chart, video, script, etc.) or intangible (e.g., a decision or a new, more focused question for future consideration, etc.). Intangible products are shared in conversation or discussions and deserve assessment like any other product.
- Often, when the content and/or process have been differentiated, the product must also become more sophisticated to accommodate the richness of the experience.
- The product of a differentiated activity may also be the content when the student is learning production techniques associated with a domain of knowledge.